Mother Jones Museum raising hell for holiday giving

HERITAGE: Margaret Fulkerson (right) and her granddaughter, Mariama Fulkerson, pose by the Mother Jones stand-up poster at the museum.

Mt. Olive, IL – The Mother Jones Museum has begun a year-end holiday fund-raising campaign in which supporters of the great labor leader can have their names put on the museum’s history wall.

The museum opened this year in Mt. Olive, just north of the St. Louis area along Interstate 55, and it is still in the process of fund-raising and developing its exhibits.

Holiday donors can choose from eight different giving levels, and all donors will get their names on the history wall and a certificate of appreciation.

The certificate includes the giver’s name and a picture of Mother Jones on the march, under the slogan, “Mother Jones Museum: Where Labor’s Legacy Lives.”

Mt. Olive is the town with the Union Miner’s Cemetery, the only labor-owned cemetery in the nation. It was founded for the burial of four local victims of the nearby “Virden Massacre” who were killed in a gun battle with strike-breakers on Oct. 12, 1898 and then denied burial by town’s main cemetery.

mother3Miner’s Cemetery has grown to include many hundreds of graves of unionists, and it still operates under its own board. Before her death in 1930, union organizer and protester Mother Jones, born Mary Harris in Ireland, instructed that she be buried there, too, and a 22-foot granite monument was built at her grave.

After a recent renovation of that monument, Mother Jones supporters were able to work with the city to include museum space in the new City Hall building.


The museum organizers described these giving levels, with the first four attached to pertinent statements about or by Mother Jones:

  • Rank and File Level, $25 – “Mother Jones believed that the rank and file was the foundation of any union power. That is why she chose to be buried with the ordinary miners who gave their lives for the labor movement.”
  • Courage Level, $50 – Mother Jones said, “Someday, we will have the courage to rise up and strike back at these great ‘giants’ of industry, and we will see that they weren’t ‘giant’ at all – they only seemed so because we were on our knees and they towered above us.”
  • Agitator Level, $75 – “When she was mocked as the ‘grandmother of all agitators’ in the U.S. Senate, Mother Jones replied that she would someday like to be called ‘the great-grandmother of all agitators’ and said, ‘I am an organizer and an aggravator. I act because I love humanity.’”
  • Hell Raiser Level, $100 – “When someone suggested she was a great humanitarian, Mother Jones replied, ‘Get it straight. I’m not a humanitarian, I’m a hell raiser.’ Join us in profiling the history of ‘hell-raisers.’ ”
  • Daughter of Mother Jones Level, $250.
  • One of Mother Jones’ Boys Level, $250.
  • History Makers’ Levels, $500.
  • Mother Jones Legend Level, $1,000.
  • Mother Jones Legacy Level, $2,500.

Margaret Fulkerson, a member of the Mother Jones Heritage Project Board, brought her granddaughter, Mariama Fulkerson, to the museum to help kick off the campaign.

Said Fulkerson: “I am proud to have worked with the Working Women’s History Project to kick-start fund-raising for the Mother Jones Museum, in cooperation with the Irish-American Heritage Center. The history of women in labor has long been neglected.

“It is my hope that through supporting the museum, we will be able to give new life to Mother Jones’ legacy of fighting for the rights and visions of working people. I urge everyone to join me in supporting this project. Let’s do this for future generations.”

Here’s how to contribute – go online to Questions can be sent by email to

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